It’s becoming official: Parkersburg’s Addison Gherke signs with Marshall | News, sports, jobs

Parkersburg High School senior Addison Gherke, seated in the middle, signed her National Letter of Intent to run track for Marshall University. Also pictured as part of Monday’s ceremony at Stadium Field on the PHS campus are, front left, Michael Cross (stepfather), Amy Cross (mother), Steve Gherke (father) and Cooper Gherke (brother). (Photo by Kerry Patrick)

PAKERSBURG – Marshall University made an immediate impact, outshining all other schools in thought.

On Monday afternoon at Stadium Field on the Parkersburg High School campus, Big Red girls track and field member Addison Gherke signed her National Letter of Intent to become a Thundering Herd next season.

Gherke, who qualified for the Class AAA State Track Meet this week in all three obstacles (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and shuttle hurdles), had several schools on her radar. When PHS girls coach Lia Fleak got a call from Marshall, the process was set in motion.

Last winter, Gherke and her mother (Amy Cross) visited campus and it didn’t take long for a change of direction.

“I would say that the visit certainly convinced me,” Gerke said. “I was a little unsure about it at first because I wanted to go somewhere out of state, but once I got there it was great. The opportunities I got there were really great.

“My mother really liked it there. She felt like it was safe. She thought I would do really well there with the community and all the resources there. She thought it suited me well.

Gherke plans to study environmental sciences. She loved everything about her experience, from the coaching staff, the facilities and the campus itself.

“They have a great environmental science program and that’s what convinced me to go there,” Gerke said. “It was almost an immediate yes from my side. I didn’t say yes to them right away, but I knew this was where I wanted to go.”

Coach Fleak was a little misty-eyed when talking about one of her track members, whose progress she has seen on the track for four years. Gherke’s bubbly personality is something Fleak will miss the most.

“Addison is one of the runners we have been watching for the last four years,” said Spot. “She was able to make it to the state meets and score. Also a great leader and great work ethic. She had really grown a lot in the last four years and it was amazing to see.

“She’s been dealing with shin problems all season, so hopefully she won’t have to worry about that at the next level. It will just be a matter of how much work is involved on a daily basis. But she is a hard worker, a go-getter, I am not worried.”

Gherke is moving to the next level and understands that new challenges await in her training.

“I definitely need to do more muscle weightlifting – that kind of thing,” Gerke said. “”I’ve never done things like that before.”

The road to becoming a Division I athlete began for Gherke in third grade, but her talent as a hurdler did not manifest itself until her sixth grade year. And she never looked back.

Gherke, who also played basketball in her eighth grade year, was encouraged by her coaches to try to clear an obstacle. She certainly passed the eye test.

“I jumped over it and my coach said, ‘OK, you didn’t fall’ – so they put me in it,” Gherke remembers. “I miss basketball a bit. I had a lot of fun. Even athletics is like a team sport. Your events are more individual, but it is fun to work together in a different way.”

Last year at the state meet, Gherke placed second in both individual hurdle events and anchored the first-place shuttle hurdle event. These awards placed her fourth among the most distinguished persons. She has suffered from shin splints this year and her times have been affected. Nevertheless, efforts remain at a high level.

“I’ve had (shin splints) off and on throughout the year, but never this bad,” Gerke said. “I was really afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do my best. I think everything will be fine for me.

“Taking everything into account, I am proud of what I have done. I also know that if I didn’t have shin splints and had no problems, I would be a little upset, but I’m happy with everything.

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